The wonderful Lexy sent me a link to this story this morning, about the anti-burqa mural by glass artist Sergio Redegalli. I saw the mural on the way to work and was not impressed. I’m a little reluctant to blog about it, because I don’t want to give this idiot any more attention. But then, I give lots of idiots attention by blogging about them, so here goes.
From the Inner West Courier:
Mr Redegalli said he is not racist or anti-Islamic but the mural on Station St was “anti-extremist, attempting to stop violence in the future”.
“I would not like to see Australia have Sharia law (the sacred law of Islam),” he said.
“It might never happen but it will be challenged. It’s through that process of it being pushed I’m worried about the violence.
“Just because the Cronulla riots happened six years ago doesn’t mean the tension isn’t there.”
Let me get this straight – he’s so worried about violence caused by something that might never happen that he’s painted a deliberately inflammatory mural to prevent this violence that might never happen? And how does painting a deliberately inflammatory mural help ease tension, Redegalli? How?
(Never mind equating Islam with violence, which probably isn’t his fault since that’s how the mainstream media has portrayed Islam for decades.)
Mr Redegalli is using his shop, Cydonia Glass Studio, to create discussion about the issue because he believes state and federal governments are too scared to bring the issue up.
“This mural has come from frustration that political correctness has gone so far you can’t say anything about Muslims without getting in trouble,” he said.
Seriously? We’ve had a free-for-all on anti-Muslim bullshit for decades in Australia. And mate, political correctness is not about stopping free speech – it’s about being adult enough to recognise that it’s offensive to use someone’s gender/sexuality/disability/religion/thing-that-is-not-like-yours as an insult. But, if you don’t like the idea of showing the same respect to other people that you want them to show to you, then you’re very welcome to be a complete douchebag.
Redegalli says this is about anti-extremism, so why isn’t his mural ‘Say no to extremism’? That way there would be no confusion. But no, it’s not about anti-extremism at all – it’s about being part of an infantile public “debate” (word used very loosely because there’s no real debate going on, just a whole heap of intolerant people who feel they’re entitled to control what women wear, voicing their anti-Islam opinions about “political correctness gone mad”).
My opinion on the burqa is clear: if a woman is being forced to wear it (the justification given for calls to ban it), then forcing them not to wear it is no different. All it will do is take away the freedom these women have to leave the house and move around in public. Banning it is not the solution.
And finally, why is this public discussion still being controlled by people who don’t wear burqas? Elizabeth Farrelly had a rant about it in the SMH earlier this week:
It is alarming to find one self agreeing with Fred Nile, especially on gender issues. But feminists should fess up. The burqa belongs in cultures that still have bride-price. It is an antediluvian title deed, an all-enveloping, owned sexual identity. It’s not for sale, because it is already bought and paid for. If that’s not commodification, I’ll burn my bra.
And now I’m ranting here. Two privileged white women discussing the politics of a garment we will never wear, and its role in a religion we do not belong to.
Update: I stopped by on my way home. Thanks to some feisty women, this is what it now looks like:
And, Redegalli was apparently recently trying to get neighbours to sign a petition asking Marrickville Council to remove all the street art/graffiti in the area (the area is so known for its street art that there are weekend walking tours). And then he goes and paints his own wall. Interesting…. (she says, stroking her beard… ha, that sounds rude!)